DAYTONA BEACH — We guess we know why NASCAR decided to come out swinging against Indiana’s law before they make another big announcement.
Ryan Newman must now win out after an extensive investigation wound up with a massive penalty.
The No. 31 team was penalized minutes after NASCAR came down hard on Indiana for its religious bigotry law for rules infractions discovered as a result of NASCAR’s post-event tire investigation conducted following the March 22 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. These infractions amount to a P5 level penalty and violate the following Sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:
12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing
20.16: Wheels and tires
A. Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments, from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted.
F. Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted.
Section 220.127.116.11.1 lists P5 Penalty Violation examples that could include but are not limited to:
A. Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means such as tire pressure adjustments within the recommended range, permitted tire cooling when mounted on the race vehicle; or heat-cycling on the race vehicle on the race track earlier in the event.
18.104.22.168.2: Minimum P5 Penalty Options (includes all four points below):
A. Loss of 50 championship driver and owner points, regardless of whether the violation occurred during a Championship race or not
B. $75,000-$125,000 fine
C. Suspension for the next six series Championship Races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, for the crew chief and any other team members as determined by NASCAR
D. Probation through the end of the calendar year for all suspended members, or for a six-month period following the issuance of the penalty notice if that period spans across two consecutive seasons
22.214.171.124.3: P5 Level infractions detected during post-race inspection:
If the infraction is detected during post-race inspection, then the following penalty elements will be added to those listed previously in this section:
A. Loss of an additional 25 Championship driver and owner points; regardless of whether it was a Championship Race or not
B. Loss of an additional $50,000
The penalty means that Mr. Newman was stripped of 75 driver points, Richard Childress Racing was stripped on a grand total of 100 owner points (75 for this infraction, plus the 25 points Brian Scott was docked for an unrelated P4 infraction). Luke Lambert has been suspended for seven races total, including the Sprint All-Star events on May 17, and fined $175,000.00.
Because the penalties occurred before June 30, the probationary period is longer: everyone on the 31 team is on probation until December 31.
“We’ve been very clear that any modifications to race vehicle tires is an unacceptable practice and will not be tolerated,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, in regard to the penalties dealt to the No. 31 team.
Sprint Cup Series Managing Director Richard Buck said Monday that teams were reminded of the severity of penalties for tire infractions during a meeting with crew chiefs on Friday at Martinsville Speedway.
“We generally have crew chief meetings where we will address topics and issues with crew chiefs, get information to them,” said Mr. Buck. “And that was the case at Martinsville. We had several things that we addressed there, but one of the things was the tires.”
Richard Childress Racing president Torrey Galida said the organization would consider its options as further information is provided.
“We understand the seriousness of the penalty,” said Mr. Galida. “In fact, RCR has been one of the most outspoken opponents against ‘tire bleeding’ since the rumors began to surface last season.”
Once NASCAR provides us with the specific details of the infraction we will conduct a further internal investigation, and evaluate our options for an appeal.”
The massive, crippling penalty dropped Mr. Newman from the Top 6 all the way back to near the danger zone, in 26th, in overall points.